Chemicals in school supplies: how do you avoid them?

Beware of chemicals in school supplies! Here’s the alert launched on Thursday, July 7 by the National Agency for Food, Environment and Health Safety (ANSES). Indeed, some pencils, glues, notebooks and other school bag supplies reveal the presence of toxic substances that can be hazardous to health, especially if they are inhaled, swallowed or come into contact with the skin. So, how do you make the right choice and not endanger your child’s health? Answer below.

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How do you choose the right school supplies?

Once the school year is over, think about stocking up on pencils, markers, erasers, and proofreaders before the school year starts. But how do you make the right choices on the office and supermarket shelves? Here’s a question to ponder, especially in light of the expertise published by ANSES.


To avoid all risks, the Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME) recommends choosing a starch-based vegetable glue. This ingredient is safe for the child, it does not irritate the skin and does not cause allergies. In addition, prefer jar or stick of glue with the European standard for the safety of toys, NF EN 71-3, instead of liquid or gel glue (which is often full of preservatives).


It is important to note that very few erasers carry the “phthalate-free” label. Yet these are extremely harmful substances that are considered endocrine disruptors. Among the most dangerous models for your child’s health are the scented erasers, latex and PVC erasers. ADEME recommends using a rubber eraser

Felt pens and colored pencils

You know these famous markers that have a different color and smell: candy, chewing gum, orange, apple? Imagine if they were banned! And it is not without reason that they contain one or more of the 26 allergenic fragrances that are banned in toys. In addition, many markers contain 3 to 5% food coloring, such as tartrazine (E102). To limit harmful substances, choose: environmental label markings


Pencils are often chewed by students. Therefore, choose to avoid inhalation of harmful substances (such as toxic solvents for the nervous system or highly allergenic preservatives) raw, unvarnished and unpainted wooden pencil

The pens

ADEME recommends buying pens, rollers with liquid or gel with the NF Environment quality mark† They guarantee a limitation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the ink. In addition, choose a roller with heat-sensitive ink. And it is not without reason that this ink has very low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

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What are the best labels?

Several labels recommended by ADEME confirm that the affected products are more environmentally friendly and that they limit or prohibit harmful substances. So these supplies are made from recycled materials, wood from sustainably managed forests for paper, etc. This is the case with these six preferred labels:

  • NF-Environment : for pencils, pens, markers, markers and erasers
  • Nordic Ecolabel or Northern Swan : for sheets of paper
  • EU Ecolabel : for notebooks, diaries and sheets of paper
  • Blue Angel or Blue Angel : for sheets of paper
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): for sheets of paper
  • PEFC : for sheets of paper

Valuable advice from ADEME

  • Read labels and follow product usage recommendations.
  • Summarize the products well after use
  • Never buy perfumed school supplies
  • Do not put products in your mouth
  • Ventilate the rooms during and after using certain emissive products in the air: glue, paint, markers, etc.
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To discover all the recommendations of the Ecological Transition Bureau, go here. And to go further, here are 8 tips for an economical and ecological return to school

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